Running review: Continental TerrainContact H/T

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2018 Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring / Deep Crystal Blue / Sand leather
The Bridgestone Ecopias that came on my 2018 CX-9 Grand Touring were fine in the dry and rain, but appallingly bad in wintry weather where I live. Reviews on Tire Rack generally agree that they're awful in the snow: https://m.tirerack.com/tires/ratings-review.jsp?tireMake=Bridgestone&tireModel=Ecopia+H/L+422+Plus+(Original+Equipment)&partnum=55VR0HL422PL

That said, adjusting my driving style helped and others here have had better luck, but that doesn't change the fact that there are better tires out there than the Ecopias. I also believe that the tires need to work for me, and not the other way around. The Ecopias made me feel like I had to work for them every time there was any snow on the ground.

Discount Tire had a nice deal with a couple rebates for Continental tires around Labor Day so I decided to bite the bullet and replace the Ecopias despite them having a decent amount of tread left. I simply didn't want to go through another winter with tires that offered such a poor driving experience in inclement weather, which comes around fairly often in the northern midwest. These are the tires I bought: https://www.tirerack.com/tires/tires.jsp?tireMake=Continental&tireModel=TerrainContact+H/T&partnum=55HR0TCHTXL

I'll be updating this post as I drive on these tires more. Generally speaking though, these tires are better by almost every measure compared to the Bridgestone Ecopias so far.

Anyway, here's my (non-professional) review and impressions of these tires from Continental vs. the Bridgestone Ecopias:
  • Dry: Better grip and confidence while cornering and while accelerating aggressively from a stop. I thought the Mazda just made enough torque to easily spin the front tires before the AWD would kick in from a stop (and it does), but the Continentals spin a lot less which tells me they have better grip. I don't normally do aggressive starts, but I did a few times just to test the grip. Aggressive starts while turning from a side road onto a main road also generally spins the tires very easily, but these tires just hook up noticeably better and provide better grip.
  • Wet/Rain: These tires are amazing on wet roads in the rain. I feel confident going through roundabouts at speeds that would've likely made the Ecopias slip. Aggressive starts also produce less wheelspin. As noted above, I don't normally drive this way, but I did a few times to test their grip.
  • Snow/Ice: Nov. 6, 2019 - Had some snow on the ground this morning and what I suspect to be a thin layer of ice under it in some spots. The short of it is that these tires provide WAY more usable grip confidence in these conditions. Accelerating and stopping in situations that would have previously overwhelmed the Ecopias were completely drama-free with these tires. I'll update with more impressions as this late fall transitions into winter and I get more time with the vehicle in more snow, slush, etc. Dec. 16, 2019 - This is probably going to be my last update on this review, but I can safely say that these tires provide more than enough confidence to get through wintry road conditions. We've had a steady stream of snow and ice since my last update and these tires just take it all on and help me and my passengers get to our destinations safely. They can obviously slip if I decide to push their limits, but under normal and reasonably cautious driving, these tires are truly amazing in snow and slush (at varying depths too from a surface covering to several inches of snow), especially for all season tires! These might even be the best all season tires I've ever had on any vehicle. Dec. 30, 2019 - Drove home from work with heavy snowfall and snow-covered roads on the highway, country roads, and local neighborhood streets. Some had a thin layer of ice under the snow, others were slushy, and some just plain snowy. The tires got me through all of it with plenty of confidence and no drama as long as I used some common sense while driving. I'd highly recommend these tires to anyone looking to get a good all season SUV/light truck tire!

Overall:
  • What's good: All around performance while accelerating and cornering feel improved. These tires inspire more confidence than the Ecopias did. Gas mileage also seems unchanged, which is good since that means there's nothing lost from the eco benefit that the Ecopias were supposed to provide. The tires have a more aggressive and blocker tread pattern so for those that care about how their tires look, I think these look pretty cool on the car (I don't have any good pics, but I can take some if people want).
  • What's not so good: That more aggressive and blockier tread pattern also mean these tires are are noisier than the Ecopias. However, the increased noise is easily drowned out by the radio or even just from running the AC or heat, so it's really not bad. I do notice some extra noise at higher speeds where it sounds like the tires are harmonizing with the texture of the road, almost like a humming though. I asked Discount Tire to double check the balancing and the dealership to do an alignment, but no issues were found by either. I'll be monitoring this. Dec. 16, 2019 - That humming I mentioned has mostly subsided after the tires broke in a bit. It still comes up, but only really on certain road surfaces. I think it's just the tire tread pattern weirdly harmonizing with certain road surfaces or textures. That said, not's not really an issue and it's even likely others won't run into this.
Compared to other vehicles I've driven on other cars I've had, these are actually probably among the best overall performing tires I've had so far, relatively speaking and all things considered (can't really do a direct comparison of performance between tires on a sedan vs. a large SUV). That said, that could change once I try these in the snow. For reference, I've had non-SUV vehicles in the past and usually with Ultra High Performance All Season tires, so my expectations for performance and driving style may be different from others.
 
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Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring 2016
Tires continue to be improved. Developments in rubber compounds, tread patterns, and casing design continue to be made. It seems that the top manufacturers leap frog each other bringing improvements to the market. After one determines the attributes one wants as norsairius did, then look first at the newest tire models that meet the driver's criteria.
 
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2018 Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring / Deep Crystal Blue / Sand leather
Updated initial post with initial snow/ice driving conditions.
 
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2018 Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring / Deep Crystal Blue / Sand leather
Updated initial post with more impressions from driving in snow/ice. At this point I don't see a need to add more unless something really warrants another update here.

That said, my overall impressions with these tires are very positive. I'd recommend these to anyone looking to get a good all season tire for their SUV/light truck. These tires not only make the Bridgestone Ecopias look even worse than they already were, they actually stand out as being among the better all season tires I've used on any vehicle.
 

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